Our Future in Santa Barbara

Once again, the air around me is thick with black-gray dust. It covers the sidewalks, the trees, everything. The sky above me is white instead of blue. The horizon is obscured by a gray and pink gauzy veil. My home is thick with windborne dust. My loved ones sniffle, or cough, or act lethargic at the break of day. Fine and coarse grit coats my nostrils, throat, and eyes, my voice is hoarse, and my breath is alarmingly short. I fear every passing diesel vehicle, or motorcycle, or clunker, and all the rest.

Power leaf blowers by the dozen descend into the neighborhood to create and disperse more dust and soot. The blowers drive the soot deeper and deeper into my home and into my lungs. The gas powered mowers, blowers, and trimmers send their horrid load of exhaust into my home and lungs.

People around me cough and sneeze, then blame their own respiratory systems. Each day I wonder if I will live through another day of traffic or power tool generated respiratory assault.

I know many others will not. I also know that many others, young and old, will have an asthma attack or some other sort of respiratory dysfunction because of drivers and power garden tools.

The trees of my neighborhood have a shiny black ooze, or a mat of gray dust clinging to them. Sidewalks near schools, and the roofs and walls of medical and public buildings are covered too.

There can be no doubt that the major, or sole source, of this airborne menace, is from the ever-increasing volume of vehicle traffic and the exaggerated use of power garden tools.

Everyone seems to recognize this problem, as well as its source, yet the menace grows as it continues. We have wage earners who are forced to feed themselves and their families, as they operate these machines that do much damage to their own health, as well as the health of the community.

Aircrafts that ply the sky and off-road vehicles do grievous harm to the climate and the land.

Our community is full of doctors and nurses, caregivers and teachers, priests and rabbis, professors and scientists, atheists and healers, yet members of city councils and Congress sit side by side with them all, while this health menace continues.

I say, no more to this.

I now borrow from José Martí’s “I Wear a White Rose” poem, just as I borrow some compassionate energy from the “White Rose” group who resisted the black shirted tyranny of the Nazis during the 1940s. Volkswagen engine and diesel truck tailpipe emissions were weaponized into deadly gas vans and gas chambers, as Nazi social engineering programs went into “high throttle.”

[The following poem is the letter writer’s adaptation of José Martí’s “I Cultivate a White Rose”]


I wear a black band on my arm as I mourn for all creatures that have, or will, perish under this black carbon curtain we have imposed on the world.

I wear a black band as I recognize the dark parts of my own soul that has done very little while this black threat has grown.

I wear a black band for the black ooze on trees that the birds and bees live in. I wear a black band for the black oil covered wildlife of every driver induced oil spill.

I wear a black band for the blackness of the exhaust soot on the yellow school buses.

I wear a black band for the for the White Egret entombed in a driver caused oil spill.

I wear a black band for the ledger sheets that go into the black as they ride upon the backs of the dead.

I wear a black band to acknowledge our shared shame for allowing the creation of this purely mechanical menace.

I wear a black arm band as I bow to the goodness in each of us.


On this day, and on each tomorrow, I ask, I plead, and I demand, as I even curse each of you, that we pursue ways to cooperate with one another and we find all possible ways and means to end to this preventable danger.


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